Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. A federal holiday since 1983, and observed on the third Monday of each January, the day is meant be one of service, although more times than not, people simply see it as a day off from work or school!
In his sermon/speech The Birth of a New Nation, Dr. King used the term beloved community – a phrase was originally conceived by philosopher Josiah Royce. Beloved community to King was the result of nonviolence. It wasn’t utopia…he knew that such perfection could not be achieved on earth. But rather a community in which everyone is cared for, absent of poverty, hunger, and hate*. Here’s the catch…even when we are on the side of right, even when we are on the side of the oppressed, even when we are on the side of justice, King implores us to “…be sure that our hands are clean in this struggle. Let us never fight with falsehood and violence and hate and malice, but always fight with love, so that when the day comes that the walls of segregation have completely crumbled in Montgomery, that we will be able to live with people as their brothers and sisters.”
The current climate of discord, divisiveness, hateful rhetoric, and fear mongering makes it incredibility difficult to not to respond in the same fashion to those with whom we disagree. However, on this day of service, if we do nothing else but try to honor Dr. King’s legacy and memory, let us try to embrace the ideals of nonviolence, compassion, and understanding as we continue the struggle for the beloved community for which he gave his life.
-Karri Temple Brackett
January 16, 2023
To read Dr. King’s complete sermon: